Oh how I’ve talked over the years, wistfully, about all the things I will do, later, when I have more time during the day. I will start going to the gym regularly, I’ll get back into sewing, I’ll take a martial arts class (I’ve always wanted to take a martial arts class), and of course, I’ll write. I’ll write ALL the time. Just write, and write, and write, all day long. (How I expect to fit in all those other things if I’m writing all day long, I’m not sure, but those are minor details.) For the last nine and a half years, my writing time has either been at night when I’m sleepy or during that tiny space of time I used to have while one child or the other was down for his (sometimes non-existent) afternoon nap, then later, during half-day preschool. (Also excuse me, but how exactly does a meager two-and-a-half-hour time slot count as an entire half of a day? Half day preschool, my buttocks.) These writing breaks have occurred, always, when I’m tired and all I really want to do is veg out and rest my body and emotions.
Later. I will do ALL the things I’ve been saying I will do, later. When I have time. A few years down the road. When the kids are older. When they’re both in full-time school.
Well guess what. Soon, very soon, that time will have arrived. In a little over two weeks I will have a third grader and a full time kindergartner, and I will have absolutely no more excuses.
I imagine the transition will feel a little like that first week at college — away from the watchful eyes of parents, stuffed in a building with a bunch of other young adults in the same boat. In other words, it will feel like freedom. Like party time, even. I know I’ll be tempted the first week or so to sit on the couch and watch all the grown-up shows and movies on Netflix that I’ve previously had to save for the evenings after the kids have gone to bed (because that’s my idea of party time, shut up). I’ll want to nap, I’m pretty sure. I’ll especially enjoy getting some reading done in peace and quiet (which will probably lead to the aforementioned urge to nap because, no matter how enjoyable a book is, I tend to get sleepy when I read for too long in a comfortable position).
BUT . . . I’m not going to do that. (Okay, maybe I’ll do a little of that). I am a WRITER. I do not consider it a hobby. I consider it a job. A job that I very much enjoy, but I don’t get paid for yet — but if I WANT to ever get paid for it, ie: publish a book, I need to work my rear off beforehand. So as enticing as it will be to relax while the kids are in school, I’m going to have to crack the whip (on myself . . . somehow . . . which, if you think about it, is pretty easy to do if you try to crack a whip when you’ve never actually cracked a whip before. Remember Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? That’s right. That’s how Harrison Ford, I mean Indie, got that ruggedly smexy scar on his chin. What? Shut up.)
So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how best to go about spending my time while the kids are in school in a productive, writerly manner, while still being able to bask in the glory of peace and quiet. I’m going to put myself on a schedule. First: the gym, right after dropping off the kids. (But wait, Megan, that’s not writing. No, it’s not, but it’s important. It’s healthy. AND, there have been studies—which I’m too lazy to go look for right now, but I know I’ve read about on the internet somewhere—that say your brain works better when you exercise regularly. Probably has something to do with all that oxygen getting moved around.)
After exercising, I’ll come home, shower and all that, and write. Then lunch. Then write. Then chores or errands. Then a relaxing activity before it’s time to pick up the kids. Sounds like it should work, right? And of course, I can’t forget to allow time for the occasional outing with a friend. Because remembering that other people exist is important too. And besides, how else is a writer supposed to get material for their characters? I mean, um, if you’re a friend reading this, pretend I didn’t say that. I WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU FOR THE SAKE OF SPENDING TIME WITH YOU, NOT TO COLLECT CHARACTER FODDER, I SWEAR. Ahem.
Anyway, that’s my plan. My very loose, subject-to-change plan. I’m curious though, for those of you who have gone through this life change already, or have been in a similar situation, how did you plan your day to make sure you were as productive as possible with your writing while still keeping some kind of work/life/creativity balance? I’d love to read your advice in the comments below.
When she’s not writing, revising, or banging her head on the keyboard (it’s all the same, right?), Megan Paasch can be found playing her ukulele (badly), knitting (rarely anymore, unfortunately), or herding two amazing, but rowdy little boys (pretty much constantly) with her husband. A native to the Pacific Northwest, Megan earned her B.A. in History from the University of Washington. (Go Huskies!) Her favorite history subjects were, and still are, Women in History, the Tudors, and the Celts. You can read more about her here.